• When Specialist Kristie Richardson, a combat medic in the U.S Army Reserves, found out that her first deployment would be to Africa she had many emotions.

    Her excitement and willingness to serve her country came into conflict with several questions. What would her deployment mean to her family and friends? How would this impact her career ambition to become a registered nurse? How would this impact her job at a nurse assistant at Rome Memorial Hospital?

    For Richardson, many of her questions were answered by her supervisor, Pre-Operative Coordinator Shirley Smith, RN whom she nominated for a Patriot Award through the New York State Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). Smith was presented with the award from the ESGR, a Department of Defense program that develops and promotes supportive work environments for service members.


     Shirley Smith DOD Award 
    Rome Memorial Hospital Pre-Operative Coordinator Shirley Smith, RN, recently received a Patriot Award from the the New York State Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in recognition of the outstanding support she has given to her employees who are also enrolled in the National Guard. Smith was nominated by Specialist Kristie Richardson, a combat medic in the U.S Army Reserves for the support and guidance she provided prior to Richardson’s first deployment to Africa. Pictured from left: Vice President Clinical Services/Chief Nursing Officer, Durinda Durr; Director of Acute Patient Services Linda Taylor; Assistant Vice President of Nursing Teresa Bell; Smith; ESGR Committee Member Wilbur Linton; and Rome Memorial Hospital President/Chief Executive Officer David Lundquist. 

    Richardson, who is still deployed in Africa as a combat medic for Delta Company, 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion out of Mattydale, NY, learned that she could nominate a supervisor who had given her support and immediately thought of Smith.

    “Shirley has the biggest heart, not just for her patients and staff but for everyone,” Richardson said. “I look up to her as a leader and a mentor. She makes it a point to greet every staff member with a smile, every day. Her care, not only for patients, but also for her staff never went unseen.”

    “When I found out about my deployment many people were concerned and worried for me, as it is my first deployment and to Africa,” she continued. “Shirley’s guidance made me feel proud of this opportunity. She helped me find coverage during my pre-deployment training and always reminded me that what I was doing is very honorable.”

    Smith understands the nervous feelings a family goes through when facing an overseas deployment. Her grandsons Travis John Smith (US Navy) and Troy Anthony Smith (US Air Force), both proudly serve in the US Armed Forces.

    “I am proud that I was able to help support Kristie’s decision to deploy overseas,” she said. “She is a remarkable, focused and strong young woman, with the foresight to see that her deployment to Africa is an experience of a lifetime.”

    While Smith herself was initially cautious about the voluntary deployment as a combat medic attached to a civil affairs team, she advised Richardson that the time away could prove to be a valuable step on her journey top becoming a registered nurse. “I am returning home to nursing school at MVCC in the fall, so Shirley loved that I would be getting a lot of medical experience as an Army combat medic,” said Richardson. “She also reminded me that when I get home my position would be waiting for me.”

    “The skills she is gaining as an Army Combat Medic will bring her vast knowledge as she works towards her nursing degree,” agreed Smith. “It was not an easy decision for her to go and we shared many conversations about the pros and cons of deployment. Having two young grandsons in the military, including one in the Navy who recently deployed to the Middle East for nine months, I knew how hard it would be for her and her family.”

    Smith reflected on the award not just as a supervisor, but as a friend and grandmother. “I feel as much pride in my heart for her accomplishments as I do my own grandsons,” she said. “I am truly humbled by this award and being honored by the US Department of Defense. I hope I have made Kristie and my grandsons as proud as they make me every day!”